Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s legacy is reaching new heights. The WNBA immortalized the father-daughter pair along with fellow helicopter crash victims Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester on Friday, April 17. During the WNBA’s draft “The Kobe & Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award” was announced, along with Gigi being named an “honorary draft pick.” Mom and wife Vanessa Bryant dedicated several heartfelt posts to the moving tribute on social media, including an emotional video message.
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“Thank you so much for honoring my Gigi and selecting her to be an honorary draft pick this year,” the 37-year-old said in a self-shot video. “It would have been a dream come true for her. She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy. So, thank you.”
“Thank you for honoring my little girl,” she continued, her emotion palpable. “Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA - this is his sweatshirt,” she added, referencing the orange hoodie she donned. “I want to congratulate all of this year‘s draft picks. Work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality.”
Vanessa elaborated on her feelings in a heart-wrenching post on Saturday, April 18, writing: “I’m so proud of you, Gigi. God I miss you baby. You deserved to live a long, healthy and happy life. I wish I could hold you and tell you how proud I am of you. You’re the best, baby girl. Mommy loves and misses you more than I could ever express. ❤️ @WNBA #2 Gianna “Gigi” Bryant Youngest draft pick ❤️🏀My ‘mambacita’ a.k.a. Wings.”
Among proud Vanessa’s other Instagrams was a photo revealing Gigi’s special No. 2 WNBA jersey. “Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant #GigiBryant #Mambacita #Wings ❤️You did it!” she captioned. “🙏🏽Mommy’s proud and happy for you mamacita! @wnba 🏀🎉#2.”
The WNBA’s official release, shared by the mom-of-four, stated that the award will be given to “a tireless advocate for women’s basketball and foster the highest levels of leadership” like Kobe. “The award will honor advocates and influencers who use their time, talent and platform to raise awareness for the game.” Vanessa will play a “large part” in determining honorees, the first of which will be named at the NBA All-Star game in 2021.